Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Baby Animals

We don't seem to hear much about it these days (or maybe it is because I live in a big city) but when I was small it was very common for children to receive baby chicks, ducks or bunnies for Easter.
My husband once had a duck named Mr. Peepers.
I had this chick. I don't remember his name.

I loved that little chick but of course the day came when we had to get rid of it. (Probably the reason these pets have gone out of style.) I was so upset. My mom told me that our neighbor had a friend on a farm who was going to take my little chick (along with her children's chicks if I remember right.)

I remember one day walking by the neighbor's porch (pictured above with our dog and my chick) and she was standing out there. I must have sent her some real crusties because she said, "I know you think I was the reason you had to get rid of your chicken but it wasn't my fault." I don't remember answering.

I still love baby chicks and wish we could have them here. Of course, just like puppies, they do grow up. We have had rabbits but it turned out I'm allergic to them.

During our Writers Inspiration Group this week I'm going to ask they write about an Easter pet. It can either be their own story or one they make up.

To get them started I'm bringing my chick and a ZhuZhu in a bunny costume.

Did you have an Easter pet?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Female Ancestors

Last week I went and heard one of my favorite authors and people read from her newest book. Jewell Parker Rhodes has nine books and teaches through the MFA program at ASU. She is such a
wonderful person and so inspiring. My favorite of all her books is "Douglass' Women" about Frederick Douglass.

During her talk Jewell talked about the television show "Who Do You Think You Are?" where Ancestry.com show different celebrities discovering their ancestry. As a long time genealogist I see "problems" with the show but it does have to fit into one hour and they are making it interesting for the average person. That's a good thing. Jewell asked why they don't do "regular people" and then explained that in her and her husband's ancestry is an Andersonville prisoner, a Salem witch, slavery, Irish, Norwegian, and Choctaw Indian.

How's that for a challenge? As I have been working on my Civil War Soldier, Samuel Wilburn, I thought, "Well, maybe I can do a little bit for her. Just for fun." Jewell was elated and we are going to get together after the ASU semester and get started. I can't wait.

Jewell also talked about how our ancestors live through us. That there is a connection for generations back. I absolutely believe this and especially through the women. So I thought I would share some of my women with you.

The baby in this photo is my grandmother, Carrie Amelia Waggoner Wilburn (1893-1952). I never met her. The lady at the top is her mother, Salenia Alzadie Freeman Waggoner (1870-1948) and the lady in them middle is her mother, Sarah M. Jackson Freeman Corbelle (1829-1911). Sarah lived through the Civil War. How different their lives were. Just try to imagine the changes they saw.

This is Mary McFerran Wilburn (1841-1924) who's fiance joined up with the Confederate Army in Arkansas and ended up in the Rock Island Prison Camp in Illinois. He returned and they were married. Lucky for me. Doesn't she look like one spunky lady?

And finally, meet Orpha Ann Collin(g)sworth
Waggoner Boruff (1844-1903) who's first husband, Joseph
Waggoner went away to the Civil War and never came back.

As the nation "celebrates" the 150th Anniversary of the War Between the States it is time to remember the women too. I don't have all the war stories put together but Jewell reminded me that I need to do that. I need to tell about the ancestor who was thrown into the fireplace when Union Soldiers raided her house. I don't know why. Was she trying to save some heirloom or the last of the food for her children? (She did survive.)

I have ancestors on both side of the war and now it's time to try and get their stories told. Do you have war stories in your family?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mystery Writing and A Day at the Park

We are lucky, here in the Valley of the Sun, to have a wonderful chapter of the Sisters In Crime mystery writers organization. I'm not a member of Desert Sleuths, mostly because the meetings are at night and I don't drive at night. I do go to as many of their events as possible. They are a truly wonderful group.

Today was their spring seminar at the Scottsdale Civic Center.
I got there early and roamed around the park a bit. I really have to do this more often. It was so beautiful. There were families everywhere. Including this cute little family enjoying the cool water.
I even found a trumpet vine which surprised me because this is what my grandsons and I call the "Bee Tree" in Washington as I wrote about here.

I have a terrible time with my little digital camera because I can't see the screen and so most of my photos didn't turn out. Still, I soaked in the atmosphere, the wonderful scents and the sounds from all the fountains.

The seminar or workshop was very good. We learned about Plot, How to Build Suspense, Thrillers vs Mysteries, Constructing Killer Characters, and Capturing Perfect Settings among others.

One of the things that stood out was the author of numerous books said she and her six-year-old watch "Adam 12" reruns religiously.

Oh for the days when kids could watch most anything on tv. I prefer most of those oldies, too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


My friend, June, over at Dezinaworld has another one of her freebies over here. It is a beautiful background that has inspired me to make something today. Perhaps and ATC. Perhaps a journal page. Or a card. The list is endless...it's just the time that always gets in the way. But thanks to June and so many others there is inspiration just a click away.

I challenge myself to finish a project for a client or writing or some housecleaning and then I reward myself with art. I'm afraid I haven't made it to the art table much lately. I have been keeping up with my poem-a-day challenge so today I'm going to be brave and share my silly poem from Day Five.

Most artists know
   and writers, too
About morning pages
   Three, not two
Julia Cameron tells us
   In "The Artist's Way"
To put our thoughts
   down every day.
Sometimes we rant
   or plan or pray,
But each morning
   We have our say.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Friendships


Over the years I have been lucky to have some truly wonderful friends. One of them is Janna, who gave me a haunting book by Gail Caldwell; "Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship."

While reading I found many wonderful phrases I wanted to remember. I didn't. I tried scanning back through but I can't find them. I know, I know, I should write them down or mark the pages or something but I hate interrupting my reading. And since I don't have a memory many things are lost to me. But the feeling remains. The feeling of joy over the friendship the author had with her friend, Caroline. The feeling of sadness when Caroline died. The warm fuzzy feeling I always get when I read about people who truly love their dogs.

My first "best friend" was Patty. She lived next door and although my memories of her are dim the feeling of having a true friend remains.

This picture is dated July 1960 but I wonder how long it stayed in Mom's camera before she had it developed. I was six. Patty must have been younger, but I don't remember. This was taken in our living room. That's the television on which I watched "Captain Kangaroo" and "Gunsmoke."

This one is dated May 1961. It was taken on the corner of Patty's corner lot. That was a favorite spot to hide when we played hide-and-seek on those long summer nights. I was heartbroken when Patty moved away. It seems it wasn't long after this because I was still young when the next family moved in.

I wish I could remember more about Patty. I imagine we played dolls and probably cowboys with my ranch set. I'm sure we caught lightening bugs. Patty went to a different (Catholic) school so she was my "at home" friend.

Who was your first best friend? What did you enjoy doing?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award

I've been honored with a blog award. This came from Jennifer at The Erudite Genealogist. Thank you, Jennifer. Although genealogy comes up in my blog I hadn't realized I had genealogy readers.

It is nice to be recognized and these awards are a great way to spread the word about some of
your favorite blogs.

The basic rules are:
1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link.

2. Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered or just love so much.

3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

How fun is that? And a wonderful way to perform a random act of kindness.

It is really fitting that today I reached 100 followers. Thank you all. I hope you visit some of these
wonderful blogs.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesdays With Rita: Spinning Wheel

Today's prompt is two-fold.
I have always been interested in learning how things were done in the past. I learned to tat, knit and crochet from my grandma. I learned to sew from my mom,
along with lots of old-fashioned cooking secrets.
My sister was far better at all these things...and far more patient. I inherited a few projects from her. One was this spinning wheel. It isn't really an heirloom except that it was hers. I never got to see her use it. My brother-in-law sent it home with me...except there are no directions and I have a feeling some parts are missing.

Then a member of the Yahoo Sketchbook Group, Anna, offered some wool. Five bags full arrived over the weekend.
Doesn't it all look soooo cool? I love it.
I've tried finding this spinning wheel and the makers and the place she got it on the Internet and although I find brief mentions I'm not finding these specifically. The metal tag on the front says:
"Walter Kircher, 3550 Marburg/L., West Germany"

The paper tag above that says:
"Greentree Ranch Wools, Countryside Handweavers, 163 N. Carter Lake Road, Loveland, Colorado 80537, 303-667-6183"

My sister lived outside Brighton, Colorado and I remember how excited she was when she called to tell me about her spinning wheel. She had Nubian goats and also some sheep and also tried spinning dog hair. I don't know if she succeeded in that.
I want to try this wool but don't have a clue where to start. I want to feel and hear what it was like for my ancestors who spun. It must be a very relaxing job. I've found some videos to watch but first I need to learn more about my particular wheel. Can anybody help? Does somebody have instructions for this spinning wheel they could copy for me or tell me where to order them?

In the meantime, I'm thinking about the other traditions that were passed from generation to generation and are now being lost by so many families. I have lots of Grandma and Great grandma's doilies, quilts, and some dishes. I've forgotten how to tat, not that I was very good at it. Grandma couldn't slow her hands down enough for most of us to really pick it up. My great niece has her old shuttle.

Have you carried on any traditions? Are there still people around you could learn from? Are there some you could teach yourself like my sister did, and I now hope to do, with the spinning?

These things are so important. We all should work to keep them alive.

BTW, Anna also sent me some goat soap. It is lovely. You can find her here.

Friday, April 1, 2011


April is National Poetry Month.

A few weeks ago I had dinner with the Fab Four. We are four writers who have developed a special bond and get together every few months to share our lives, our goals and accomplishments and give each other support in the writing life. Two of the ladies are poets. As one of them shared her poems I kept asking myself "how does she do that?" They started talking about the Web site of Robert Lee Brewer of Writer's Digest Magazine.

I checked it out and just in time for his poem-a-day challenge for April. I love challenges. They get me moving. I challenge myself to try new things regularly. How about you?
Through this link you will find daily prompts for your own poetry and be able to read what others come up with. Ready to join me in this challenge?

April is also Autism Awareness Month.
People dealing with autism ask we wear blue this month to raise awareness of the growing problem of autism. "Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a 'spectrum disorder' that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees." One in 110 children are autistic.

I think about these children, their families, teachers and our community at large. They are challenged every day, indeed every minute.

April is my month to write poetry and learn more about autism or maybe write a poem about autism.